Autumn has only just begun, but now is the time for online retailers to start planning for the hectic holiday season! eCommerce users spent a total of $125.9 billion during the 2018 holiday season, and experts predict that 2019 will shatter last year’s records. More and more customers are turning to the convenience of online shopping instead of heading to brick-and-mortar stores, so consider using the following tips to prepare for the upcoming seasonal challenges:
Anticipate Higher Traffic
Whether you run a small eCommerce store or a major enterprise, expect to have some heavy traffic days or unusual spikes in site visitors, such as on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Although attracting more shoppers certainly isn’t a negative thing, a sudden influx of users may negatively impact the overall responsiveness and speed of your site. There are a few ways you can prevent this from happening:
- Optimize and resize your images to ensure quick loading speeds.
- Set up full-page caching.
- For Magento Commerce Cloud users, consider increasing your cloud capacity.
Take Security Seriously
A research survey conducted by Accenture found that 62% of online holiday shoppers are worried about the security of eCommerce transactions. Their concern is understandable, as hackers often rely on the busyness of the holiday season to take advantage of unsecured websites. To protect your store, start by employing these security measures:
- If your site isn’t already running on HTTPS, consider upgrading it before November.
- Use the latest version of Magento.
- Make sure that all software is kept up-to-date.
- Apply any recommended security patches.
- Create unique passwords, and regularly change them.
Cater to Mobile Shoppers
In 2018, statistics showed that nearly 40% of all holiday eCommerce purchases were made using a mobile device. This number is only expected to increase during the upcoming holiday months, so it’s highly recommended to think “mobile first.” Consider aspects like:
- Creating page titles and descriptions suitable for mobile SEO.
- Using relevant keywords throughout your online content.
- Making sure the site is easy to navigate (using bigger CTA buttons, hiding irrelevant content, etc.)
- Conducting mobile experiments to discover the best practices for your store.
- Optimizing your content for voice search.
Upgrade Your Checkout Experience
High rates of cart abandonment is discouraging at any time of the year, but it can be particularly disheartening to have low conversion rates during the holidays. If your site is mobile-friendly, fast, and has an easy-to-navigate theme, the problem likely lies within your checkout process. Here are a few ways you can create a smoother, easier checkout to encourage your customers to follow through with their purchases:
- Shorten the length of the web form, or make it appear shorter by creating a multi-step web form.
- Offer a variety of payment options.
- Make sure information regarding additional fees for shipping and/or taxes is clearly visible to customers.
- Allow people to choose whether or not to create an account.
- To encourage users to make an account, offer to save their information so they can check out with a single click in the future.
Optimize Content for the Holidays
As people are frantically shopping for the perfect gifts for their loved ones (or the best deals for themselves), their search habits and keywords change accordingly. If you use tools such as Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner, you can conduct research on the most relevant keywords customers searched for during the past few holiday seasons. Then, you can incorporate these words into your content, URLs, and image tags in order to boost your site’s SEO throughout the season.
Don’t Forget About Personalization!
Customers today expect to have engaging and personalized shopping journeys, whether they’re returning shoppers or brand-new visitors to your site. If you can deliver relevant content and highly individualized product recommendations, you can stand out among your competitors and help users find what they’re looking for much more quickly. Here’s what you can do to prepare for this before the holiday season begins:
- Gather data. Collect and analyze user behaviors on your site, reviewing the results often to identify any areas within the customer journey that need to be improved. Using a variety of strategies, such as personalized product recommendations or helpful content suggestions, can also be used to capture your audience’s attention. Once you understand the intentions of a wide variety of users, you can accurately segment users and launch specific marketing campaigns.
- Go omnichannel. To gain the widest possible audience, you have to be prepared to engage with users on a variety of platforms. For instance, using social media to announce special deals, discounts, or other special holiday offerings can help you increase site traffic. Setting up personalized email chains for different events, such as welcoming a new user or reminding someone of their abandoned cart, can do wonders for conversion rates. You should also continue to regularly update your blog with relevant content throughout the holiday season!
The holiday season can be stressful, but if you begin now, your store will be ready for anything when November comes around. If you’d like more eCommerce tips, download The Journey of a Gift for a complete guide to making the most of the holidays!